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Surprising Science

Better Desktop 3D Printing Within Consumer Reach

The second generation of MakerBot's desktop 3D printers is a sturdier, faster, easier-to-use version with a price that starts at just under $2,200.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Yesterday Brooklyn-based MakerBot unveiled its new desktop 3D printer, charmingly called the Replicator 2. It possesses a sturdier PVC/metal frame, a bigger (by 37 percent) size, and greatly-improved speed and accuracy, printing layers at 100 microns per inch. It also comes with a simpler software interface that gets new users up to speed quickly. MakerBot opened the doors to its first physical retail store in Manhattan today, which will probably draw many 3D printing fans as well as curiosity-seekers. Christmas shoppers may want to heed CEO Bre Pettis’ words: “You know that person who has everything? [T]hey probably don’t own anything that came from a 3-D printer.”

What’s the Big Idea?

3D printing has been taking off in the last few years, but most people could only get higher-quality results if they had access to expensive equipment (or a friend or relative with said access). Although the new printer and its fancier dual-extrusion sibling the Replicator 2x aren’t cheap (at just under $2200 and $2800 respectively), they are within the realm of certain “prosumers” who want to be able to create models and prototypes in a home or office environment.

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